Giacomo (John) Rizello as a prisoner of war (Italian Army) in Cowra POW Camp and later on release as a farm labourer in Wellington NSW, 1941-1946, interviewed by Terry Colhoun.

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Accession Number S04342
Collection type Sound
Measurement 49 min 52 sec
Object type Oral history
Physical description digital audio tape (DAT); maxell R-125DA; 48kHz; 16 bit; stereo
Maker Rizzello, Giacomo (John)
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Rivett
Date made 7 March 2007
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Source credit to AWM Oral History Program
Description

An Italian soldier captured at Bardia, North Africa in 1941 and sent to Cowra POW Camp. He was later released to work as a farm labourer at Wellington NSW until 1946 when he was repatriated back to Italy. He emigrated to Australia in the 1950s.

A transcript of this recording may be available. For further information please contact the Sound section.

History / Summary

Mr Rizzello talks about his childhood in Lecce, Southern Italy following his birth in Strongano on 26 May 1920. he was born into a large poor family and life on their small farm was hard. He was conscripted into the Italian Army at nineteen following preliminary training in a facist youth organisation in Florence. he served in North Africa and surrendered to British forces at Bardia with his colonel and the rest of his unit. They had First World War weapons, no ammunition, and were hungry, thirsty, dirty and lice-ridden. Conditions were little better until they reached Alexandria, and were much better when he was moved to India.

From India he was shipped to Australia and transported by train to POW Camp 12 in Cowra NSW. His time in POW Camp 12 was brief as he was one of many Italians who volunteered to work on farms. He was sent to Wellington in NSW where he spent the rest of the war living with the family of Mr Thomas Pope, a farmer. They treated him as one of the family. He only saw other Italian POW's when they went to church on Sundays.

After being repatriated to Italy he applied to emigrate to Australia under the sponsorship of Mr Pope. He intially returned to work on the Pope farm but later he and a fellow Italian bought land at Manilla, near Tamworth in NSW. They cleared the land of heavy eucalypts by cutting fence posts, making a lot of money in the process. Later, Mr Rizello was married by proxy to an Italian girl he had never met. He is now retired and lives in Canberra ACT.

INTERVIEWER'S NOTE: "As Mr Rizzello speaks quickly, with a heavy accent, it is necessary to concentrate to follow the discussion. His daughter was helpful in explaining some answers".

  • Listen to Giacomo (John) Rizello as a prisoner of war (Italian Army) in Cowra POW Camp and later on release as a farm labourer in Wellington NSW, 1941-1946, interviewed by Terry Colhoun.